Flowers, Hudson give late draftees hope

CHICAGO – Statistically speaking, Chicago White Sox infielder Orlando Hudson and catcher Tyler Flowers are lucky to be in the major leagues.

Hudson and Flowers are among an exclusive group of players who were selected in the late rounds of the MLB draft and have still made it to the majors. They’re the type of players who give hope to the high school and college players who were selected Wednesday on the final day of the 2012 draft.

Hudson was picked by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 43rd round as the 1,280th pick of the 1997 draft. He is the fifth 1,280th pick to ever reach the majors. The other four players have combined to play 141 games. Hudson has played in 1,307 games.

Flowers was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 33rd round as the 1,007th pick of the 2005 draft. He’s only the third 1,007th overall pick to reach the majors.

Among their teammates, Hudson, Flowers and relief pitcher Hector Santiago (30th round) are the only current White Sox’s players who weren’t drafted in the first 15 rounds. Eight players were selected in the first round, two in the second and four in the third.

Despite where Flowers and Hudson were selected in the draft, neither ever doubted they would be where they are now.

“I always had full confidence,” said Hudson, who was drafted out of Spartansburg Methodist College. “One thing people will tell you, ‘Orlando does not lack confidence in nothing.’

“I work hard and play the game and things happen. It’s a blessing. God blessed me the talent to play. I was happy to see there was the major leagues in my future and was one of the later-round picks who made it.”

Flowers had a similar confidence. He passed up on college baseball and football scholarships because he thought he should give professional baseball a chance.

“Either way whether you’re the last pick or the first pick, everyone has that passion for the game and the excitement of what could happen,” Flowers said. “That’s an opportunity when they call your name out. Whether you’re the first or last pick, that’s an opportunity to progress and hopefully have your dream come true, and you got a chance to make it to the big leagues.”

Flowers actually thought the lack of pressure of being a late-round pick helped him.

“I really didn’t think the odds were against me,” Flowers said. “When you think about, we’ll use Gordon (Beckham) for example because he’s (sitting) right here. First rounder, got a little bit money when he signed, that could also have the opposite effect on people where it’s pressure, and you feel the pressure of producing and getting up to the big leagues quickly and justifying your signing bonus and all the kind of stuff.

“It was kind of an actual blessing I got be in the middle ground. I was able to have some good early years. I had a tough year a couple years ago, but I established some good years before that probably bought me another chance. It’s always not bad to be in the middle ground. I wouldn’t want to be at the end. I was happy how it worked out.”

Hudson had simple advice for the players drafted on Wednesday.

“You get there and work hard,” said Hudson, who has won four Gold Gloves. “There’s no pressure first of all because they’re looking at you as if he’s just a body right now. The way things are going lately not a lot of first-rounders make it.”